Daniel Ricciardo in profile
Last Updated: 04/01/17 2:31pm
As arrivals at the forefront of the Formula 1 grid go, Daniel Ricciardo's has proved to be one of the most spectacular - and popular - in recent memory.
Not content with just becoming the first team-mate to defeat quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel over a season in his first year at Red Bull, the affable Australian bounced back from a tough second campaign with an outstanding 2016, deservedly claiming the Malaysia GP after heartbreak in Spain and Monaco.
A maiden world championship is next on Ricciardo's wishlist and 2017's aerodynamic overhaul could play into both Red Bull and the 27-year-old's hands. One thing's for sure, the man now famous for his Shoey podium celebrations looks destined to become a future great with his relentless speed and swashbuckling driving style.
As is the norm for up-and-coming drivers these days, Ricciardo comes from a karting background, having started as a nine-year-old before going on to win the Western Australian Formula Ford Championship driving a 15-year-old Van Diemen.
His success saw him win a scholarship into the Formula BMW Asian Championship with Eurasia Motorsport and from there he moved to Formula Renault with Rp Motorsport, entering the European and Italian Championships of the category. He remained a part of the series in 2008, racing in the European and Western European Championships, taking his first European title in the Western European Cup and finishing second in the Eurocup to Valtteri Bottas.
The Australian moved to the British Formula Three Championship in 2009 with Carlin Motorsport and won the title by 87 points from Walter Grubmuller.
At the end of the year the Red Bull-backed starlet was handed the chance to test the energy drinks firm's F1 car in the young driver sessions at Jerez and the strong impression he made saw him named as their reserve driver for the following season, which he dovetailed with racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Tech 1 where he finished second.
And although he remained in the series for 2011, this time with ISR, Ricciardo's reputation was growing far beyond the junior categories. On the back of another impressive appearance in the Young Driver Test the previous winter, Ricciardo was given the chance to take part in Friday practice sessions with Red Bull's junior team, Toro Rosso.
At the 2011 British GP, it was announced that Spanish backmarkers HRT had signed him for the remainder of the season in place of Narain Karthikeyan. It didn't take long for Ricciardo to take the fight to new team-mate Tonio Liuzzi, and with very few mistakes and a continuous upswing, it was the vastly more experienced Italian who was forced to make way when Karthikeyan made his expected one-off return for India's inaugural race.
Ricciardo's impressive efforts finally earned him the call up to Toro Rosso to partner Jean-Eric Vergne at the start of 2012 and Daniel was in the points at the first attempt - at his home Australian GP debut no less - with ninth place.
Although it was Vergne who finished one place higher in the standings, Ricciardo dominated their qualifying head-to-head - something which continued in 2013. When Webber announced in June of that year that he was retiring from F1 for sportscars, Ricciardo was immediately named on Red Bull's shortlist, although most thought at the time that the seat was likely to go to Kimi Raikkonen.
However, it was Ricciardo who was handed the coveted drive after an impressive test for Red Bull at Silverstone, even though he did initially beach the RB9 in the gravel.
What followed in 2014 was Ricciardo's best season in F1 to date. In just the fourth race of the year he claimed his maiden F1 podium followed four races later in Spain, although it was the next month in Canada where Ricciardo shone brightest of all as he pounced on Mercedes reliability problems to claim his breakthrough grand prix win.
A second unlikely triumph followed in Hungary - thanks in no small part to impressive overtakes on Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso - and when Ricciardo won again two weeks later at Spa the possibility that he could even snatch the title from under the noses of the warring Mercedes pair emerged. And while it wasn't to be, Ricciardo's stellar season was capped by him finishing a comfortable third in the drivers' standings, two places and 71 points ahead of Ferrari-bound Vettel.
His breakthrough year was undoubtedly a huge triumph, but 2015 proved a tougher proposition with Ricciardo frequently the victim of the Red Bull-Renault package's chronic unreliability. Largely as a result of that frequent bad luck, Ricciardo finished the year behind new team-mate Daniil Kvyat in the standings.
But while Ricciardo's star had been clouded, F1's smiling assassin came charging back last season. Reinvigorated by Red Bull and Renault's improved package, Ricciardo was fighting at the front once again and was only denied morale-boosting wins in Spain and Monaco by his team's respective strategy and pitstop blunders.
Arguably the most consistent driver of 2016, a first win of the season was to follow in Malaysia as Ricciardo finished the year third in the standings behind the Mercedes drivers, matching his breakthrough 2014 campaign.
Having also formed one of the most exciting partnerships in motorsport, pushed to a new level by Max Verstappen's Red Bull arrival, it was a year to remember for Ricciardo. And don't be surprised if 2017 is even better…